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Starting young

Updated: 2013-02-07 10:00
By Lin Qi ( China Daily)
Starting young

Families with young children at an educational workshop held at The Ullens Center for Contemporary Art in Beijing's 798 Art District. Kuang Linhua / China Daily

Parents get as restless as their children during school breaks, especially if they do not have any vacation plans. This Spring holiday we suggest you take a trip to the museums. Lin Qi tells you why.

Even though it is the winter vacation, it does not mean that children's education comes to a halt. The first weekend after Beijing's primary and secondary schools started a four-week break on Jan 25, museums and galleries in the capital were abound with diverse and enlightening programs for children.

Luo Jiachen, 8, who is a third grader, wakes up before 7 am, just like any other normal school day. She and her mother, Chen Ying, travel about two hours from their home in southeastern Beijing to the National Art Museum of China in the city center.

They plan to attend a couplet-writing program at 9:30 am. It is part of NAMOC's ongoing exhibition of calligraphic art on Lunar New Year couplets.

Chen says they visit museums at least twice a year, although it was not until recently that she has paid more attention to their educational programs.

Luo Jiachen attends painting class as part of her extracurricular courses at school. Chen, who learned the basics of calligraphy in childhood, hopes her daughter will follow in her footsteps when she is a little more mature, perhaps in a year or two.

She is unsure if couplet-writing and calligraphy would interest a child.

Starting young

Patently potent

"Painting captures children's interest with varied shapes and colors. But appreciating calligraphy requires a certain knowledge, which I fear may be bore them," she says.

NAMOC's couplet-writing program includes a brief tour of the exhibition and activities. To Chen's relief, there is not much lecturing involved. Instead they briefly explain the various Lunar New Year customs, aided by interesting slideshows.

Among the activities is a game in which parents and children try to find the missing characters in couplets. At the end of the program, they complete a Lunar New Year couplet together, and they can choose to bring their work home or, sign their names and leave it at the museum.

Initially, Luo appears shy and nervous, sticking closely to her mother. She warms up after playing some games and becomes excited when she and a boy successfully match their lines to complete a couplet. She receives a NAMOC souvenir, which is a postcard with a Picasso painting on it.

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